Interpreting is an exciting and in-demand career, and UWM’s ASL/English Interpretation major will give you the edge you need to succeed.
In general, the interpreting and translation field is growing much faster than other occupations, with job opportunities expected to increase 46 percent by 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau notes that ASL interpreters are especially sought-after.
Our extensive program goes beyond teaching students about language, culture and how to facilitate conversations. We work to develop well-rounded interpreters who value and consider others’ perspectives, who are culturally sensitive and empathetic practitioners who continually work to better themselves and the interpreting profession.
Why Choose Us?
- Our program philosophy, “Deaf Heart Starts Here,” takes hold the moment you begin your preparation. Due to the foundational coursework, you can be confident that when you enter the program, you will be competent in ASL, knowledgeable about deaf culture and connected to the local deaf community.
- The UWM ASL/English Interpreting program has a strong connection to the Deaf and interpreting community in the state of Wisconsin. There are many community visitors who visit the interpreting classrooms on a regular basis, which strengthens the trust between the interpreting major and the people the interpreting students will work with post-graduation.
- We’re committed to diversity. We understand that the interpreting profession is under-representative of the diversity within the deaf community, and we strive to create a diverse community of interpreters fluent in language and culture, engaging in critical thinking and service learning. We actively seek input, counsel and involvement from many communities and from stakeholders who are under-represented in our field.
- UWM offers the only 4 year Bachelor’s Degree for Interpreting in the State of Wisconsin. This is significant because a bachelor’s degree is required to be eligible for national certification testing. Our Interpreting program is aligned with both state licenses, which offers graduates more options upon graduation in terms of employment.
- Service learning is infused throughout our program. Beginning with ASL courses, students are in the community, supplementing what is learned in the classroom. In fact, the immersion experience is so highly valued that UWM offers an ASL Living Learning Community in the residence halls. Service learning not only enhances a student’s language proficiency, it also fosters “Deaf Heart.”
- The Interpreting program is also proud to be one of a few in the country to have the Sorenson Synergy Program available to our students. This unique opportunity allows interpreting students to visit the Sorenson Call Center in West Allis and observe Video Relay Interpreters at work!
- You’ll connect with our highly qualified instructors. All ASL instructors are deaf and are experienced in providing a safe, comfortable immersion-like learning environment for students. Within the program professional course sequence, you’ll learn from nationally certified interpreters who bring not only their expertise in the field, but current, relevant work experience to the learning environment.
- You’ll have access to a unique community of mentors, including your advisor, program coordinator, instructional staff, peer mentors and professional interpreters from the community.
- We work hard to ensure that graduates reach their career goals, and we pride ourselves on the success our former students have achieved through their work in our community. In a recent survey of the past five graduating classes, 80 percent of our graduates were working as interpreters and 76 percent reported finding work within three months of graduation.
- Our program is housed in an accredited, Tier 1 Research institution.
- The ASL/English Interpreting Program curriculum aspires to align with the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education (CCIE) Accreditation Standards.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
ASL/English Interpretation Social Media
Check out the UW-Milwaukee Interpreter Training Program social media pages to see what ASL/English Interpretation students are up to.
In the News
For more information or questions about the program
Contact an ASL/English Interpretation Program Academic Advisor
(Last names A – L) – Kristin Roosevelt
(Last names M – Z) – Nikki Claas
Undergraduate Major Curriculum
Overall, this major requires a total of 121 credits. The general education requirements (GER) are specific as a means to enhance the skill development of the interpreting student. In terms of a 4 year plan, the first two years are GER, language courses, and interpreting foundation coursework. The final two years are in the interpreting major.
Students are strongly encouraged to consider the Cultures & Communities Certificate as a way to round out their education and prepare themselves to work with diverse groups of people.
This program uses a cohort model. Students who apply during the spring admission period and are admitted to the program. The cohort then begins the 2 year sequence in the subsequent fall semester. This cohort model is designed to encourage students to develop a network of interpreting colleagues and more importantly, becomes a support network during the program.
- Oral Written Communication (OWC) Part A & B complete
- Quantitative Literacy (QL) Part A & B complete
- Interpreting coursework:
- EXCEDUC 348: Introduction to the Profession of Interpreting (students learn about the field of interpreting; the role of the interpreter; ethics of becoming an interpreter) – Must earn a C or better
- EXCEDUC 320 & 321: Introduction to Interpreting Skills (English to ASL & ASL to English- students learn the cognitive process of interpreting; interpreting process theories; practical application of beginning skills – Must earn a B- or better in both courses
- ASL Coursework:
- EXCEDUC 301 & 302 – Must earn a C or better
- EXCEDUC 303, 304, 305 & 306 – Must earn a B- or better in all
- If student has previous experience, must contact ASL Studies Coordinators for information about the ASL Screening Placement
- Complete minimum of 58 credits prior to beginning the ASL/English Interpreting Major
- Minimum 2.5 GPA in all courses at time of admission (includes transfer coursework)
The amount of time required may seem overwhelming to some, but the fact is that interpreter education takes time. To become a competent interpreter, you must have language proficiency in both ASL and English. Learning to become an ASL/English interpreter requires commitment; a commitment to the time and energy required for language acquisition, as well as the commitment to a culture and a community of people.
Students may choose to complete the program as a full-time or part-time student. The outlines you can download reflect a full-time student plan. For students who would like to explore a part-time option, please consult with the advisor.
Students Admitted to Major
For students who have been admitted to the Interpreting Major, the two-year sequence begins once per year in fall. The cohort of students take courses together in the sequence that is outlined on the program sheet. In general, students will experience:
- Students will have interpreting skills courses
- Skills courses are designed to build off the semester prior, ensuring that students are advancing their skills and preparing to work in the community.
- Within the skills courses, students will have specialized areas of study regarding various interpreting settings, including:
- Interpreting in K-12 Educational Settings
- Interpreting in Post-Secondary Settings
- Medical Interpreting
- Mental Health Interpreting
- Video Relay Interpreting
- Students will build an ethical decision-making framework through the seminars that are attached to the field experience courses (see below).
- Students will develop a website that showcases their skill set and professional qualifications at the end of the program, as preparation for the transition to a job search.
- Students have a fieldwork courses
- Students are required to complete a minimum of 100 hours of fieldwork outside the class (opportunities are provided from the Program Coordinator)
- Students will experience a variety of settings and types of learning experiences.
- In the seminar attached to the fieldwork, students discuss their experiences, any ethical issues, and the role of the interpreter.
In the final semester of the program, students have two internship experiences. One in a K-12 interpreting setting and the other in a community interpreting setting.
- Students work with an interpreting mentor at each site
- All placements are coordinated by the Interpreting Program Coordinator
- Students complete 150 hours in the K-12 interpreting internship
- Students complete approximately 240 hours in the community interpreting internship
- Completion of all Interpreting Major professional courses with a B- or better and GPA of 2.75; B- or better in designated skills courses
- Successful completion of two interpreting internships (K-12 educational interpreting & community interpreting internships)
- Completion of Wisconsin DPI course requirements with a C or better:
- EDPSY 330
- EXCEDUC 300
- COMMUN 103
- Passing score for Knowledge Exam, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) National Interpreter Certification (NIC) – 500 or above
- Passing score for at least one of the following interpreting performance exams:
- Wisconsin Interpreter and Transliteration Assessment (WITA) – I1/T1, I1/T2 or I2/T1
- Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) – First pass Test of English Proficiency (TEP), then pass BEI Basic performance exam
- Educational Interpreter Proficiency Assessment (EIPA) – 3.3 or higher
- RID NIC Performance Exam (pass/fail)
2nd Degree Program Outline
In addition to the full-time Teaching Academic Staff Program coordinator, the instructional staff is comprised of nationally certified interpreters who are hired on an adjunct basis.
Our program’s requirements are designed to prepare graduates for Wisconsin’s interpreter licenses. Upon graduation, you may choose to apply for one or both of the following:
- Department of Public Instruction’s Educational Interpreter License, which allows an interpreter to work in K-12 educational settings.
- Department of Safety and Professional Services’ Sign Language Interpreter License, which allows an interpreter to work in community settings other than K-12 education.
For students who are considering an out-of-state move, we can provide specific advice about transferring your skills and knowledge to meet another state’s standards.
For more information about the job market for interpreters, please visit the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (RID) webpage.
Is Interpreting Right For You?
American Sign Language interpreting is a unique career choice that may not be right for everyone who has an interest in ASL. Take a look at the list of questions below to determine if interpreting is the right career choice for you.
- Do you believe that ASL is a complex language that requires years of dedication to learning with a community of people?
- Are you proficient in speaking and writing in English?
- Do you find yourself analyzing what people are saying and finding ways to clearly communicate your ideas or others?
- Are you comfortable standing and speaking or performing in front of a group of people?
- If you are presented with a problem, can you usually figure out multiple appropriate responses to solve the problem?
- Do you connect with other people in conversation easily? Would you consider yourself a “people person”?
- Do you value the differences of others and find ways to relate to people who are different than you and are able to empathize with them?
- Are you interested and passionate about learning more about the deaf community, American deaf culture and other minority groups?
- Can you easily maintain your attention and recall information when you are learning or having a conversation?
- If you are given a set of guidelines and a framework to understand professional behavior, do you feel it is important and of value to conduct yourself accordingly?
If you responded “yes” to all of the above questions, interpreting seems to be the right career path for you! If you responded “no” to any of the questions above, a conversation with the advisor will help you determine if interpreting is the best option for you. In either case, we encourage you to contact the advisor with further questions about the interpreting profession.